Question: What is the difference between a "feral" cat and a "stray" cat?
Feral cats are typically cats that were born outdoors and have never had any kind of human contact other than the occasional person who feeds the neighborhood cats. They tend to pick an area and form a sort of "colony" of cats. Feral cats over the age of 8-10 weeks old are not likely to become tame housecats. They were born and raised in the outdoors and are better left there. Somerville Animal Control works closely with the Trap-Neuter-Return organization called Charles River AlleyCats. This organization, run entirely by volunteers, traps these feral cats, sterilizes them so that they may not reproduce, and returns them to the colony from which they came. This action helps to alleviate the feral cat population in that colony.
Stray cats are classified as cats who have been abandoned, dumped on the street, or have become lost and never found their was home. These cats are more often than not, friendly cats that just need a family to take them in. Charles River AlleyCats also helps Somerville Animal Control by spay/neutering and providing essential veterinarian care for these friendly cats that sometimes wind up in the care of the ACO. Charles River AlleyCats then advertises the cat as an adoptable pet. They charge a reasonable adoption fee to cover some of the costs they incur when they vet the cat. Over the past two years, we have a huge success rate in finding these unwanted/misplaced friendly cats new homes.